As soon as the Texas Rangers acquired Cliff Lee before the trade deadline, I was groaning because I knew it meant the Angels were done in the AL West race. The southpaw has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since winning the Cy Young Award in 2008 with the Indians, and he’s become one of the postseason starting pitchers we’ve seen.
Lee beat the Rays for the second time in the series, allowing just six hits and one run while striking out 11 in a complete game win. For the ALDS, he pitched 16 innings allowing just 11 hits, two runs, no walks and posting 21 strikeouts. The big stat that was being trumpeted for the series was that only seven times in postseason history has a pitcher gone 7 innings with double-digit strikeouts and no walks, and four of those games have now been accomplished by Cliff.
How about another feather in Phifer’s cap? He is one of only five pitchers in history to go at least 6-0 in his first seven career postseason starts. Here’s that exclusive list:
> El Duque 6-0 1.24 ERA
> Cliff Lee 6-0 1.44 ERA
> Bob Gibson 6-0 1.71 ERA
> Lefty Gomez 6-0 2.86 ERA
> Jack Morris 6-0 3.21 ERA
Things will get more difficult for Lee in the next round against the Yankees, but as long as he keeps on throwing strikes with a fastball around 93 and constant movement, and as long as Captain Hook shows up like it did on Tuesday night, he’ll keep on rolling. For now, he’s starting to place himself in the class with the likes of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, and Dave Stewart with his clutch pitching. He is awesome.
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